This is another of the super-short stories I wrote in my Creative Writing course a few weeks ago.
I didn’t know I wanted to write this, in fact I’d been trying to repress it.
But some things you can’t keep down.
(Disclaimer: this the work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents either are products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events or locales or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental. Except that it’s an entirely true story. Awks.)
The Turning Point
An apology. Aka. Can we laugh about it now?
As soon as I step into the office, I can feel the air thick with my own regret. It smacks me in the face, as harsh as the fluorescent lighting, as sharp as the always-5-degrees-too-chilly conditioned temperature.
My stomach flips and churns.
Somehow, I wade through the unpleasantness to my desk and turn my laptop on. Somehow, I even manage to start getting some work done, despite my brain being a fog.
Some time later, I hear the door click open and my stomach clenches again. My boss strides in. I look up to smile at him and his suit jacket brushes my desk as he goes by, but he doesn’t even look at me.
Yep. This is bad.
My heart is banging in my chest as minutes filter by, and then an hour or two. I take no notice of my colleagues’ vague chatter around me, and wonder how I haven’t had a heart attack yet, my heart being on overdrive for such an extended period of time.
And then, my boss emerges from his office, approaches my desk and looks at me with stormy eyes.
“We’ll talk in the boardroom.”
“Yes, sure!” I make it sound a little too chirpy, like I’m actually excited, like fear isn’t violently wracking my very being right now.
I gather my laptop and phone from my desk and head for the door. Then I change my mind. I return the laptop to the desk, exchanging it for a notepad and pen instead. Then, I go back a third time and decide not to bring anything at all. All the while, my boss is standing there holding the door open. Waiting.
“I’m sorry!” I race through the door at last into the boardroom.
Inside, the CEO sits at the head of our long, white board table.
She has to be only about 5’3″, but her elaborate hairstyles always make her look powerful. Imagine Marie Antoinette, but in modern day Melbourne. Today is no exception.
She sits still, stern eyes fixed on me, hands clasped on the table in front of her. As tiny as she is, her presences gives me the same vibe that a fire-breathing dragon might. I try to trick myself (and them) into thinking I’m not terrified by taking a seat right next to her.
“So, how are you both?” I enquire in an overly cheerful voice.
“I am well, thank you,” she answers.
My boss doesn’t reply, just proceeds to look at her imploringly, waiting for her to make the first move.
“Let’s not beat about the bush,” the CEO begins. “Let’s talk about what you’ve done, Stephanie.”
And so, for the second time in my life I feel quite certain that I’m about to be fired. Only this time, I might actually deserve it.